Lost sales are a tough thing to measure. It’s easy to track what’s actually sold, but when someone opts NOT to purchase something it’s much harder to measure. Retail stores can approximate this by measuring foot traffic in and out against sales, but how do you measure this if you’re selling online? It’s become a huge point of contention in ebooks, where the agency model and battles over digital rights means there is a critical mass of angry readers with no way to express their displeasure…until now!
is a simple website with a fantastic premise: you submit a book that you decided NOT to purchase, indicate if it was an ebook or paper book, and then explain why you didn’t purchase it (price, availability, shipping costs, etc). Many of the reasons for the lost sales were regional restrictions, price, and availability. If you really want to kill time and see how publishing and copyright restrictions are strangling sales, it’s easy to flip through from one submission to the next. It’s surprisingly addictive to see what people would have read and why they didn’t buy it!
Up until LostBookSales, there really weren’t any great ways for readers to take their grievances public. You could downrank books on Amazon by giving them one-star reviews, but that was often harming the author and not getting the message to the truly responsible party like the publisher. There’s always an indignant email, but that lacks the power of the crowd behind it. LostBookSales isn’t perfect, but the more it spreads the more powerful a voice it will become!
Here’s my request to every Gear Diary reader: When you choose to not buy a book or can’t buy one due to restrictions or lack of availability, put it on LostBookSales. Then tweet a link to your LostBookSales entry, and make sure to add a #LostBookSales tag. The more we can get it to trend, the more attention it gets. The more attention it gets, the more publishers will recognize they’re losing sales, and the more leverage readers will have to gain more favorable ebook treatment! And if it fails…well, at least there’s a whole website showcasing how frustrated we all are!